Experts pass on severe weather safety tips as heat and humidity hit Windsor region

As weather watchers warn of heat and humidity across southwestern Ontario this week, meteorologists are also reminding residents of severe weather, including lightning and thunderstorms.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, lightning can cause up to 10 deaths a year across the country, and in Windsor, Ontario. claiming the Lightning Capital of Canada.

“Windsor receives the most lightning strikes in Canada,” said warning preparedness meteorologist Trudy Kidd.

“When it thunders, go inside,” Kidd said. “That means if you’re outside and you hear thunder, don’t wait for the next one, or the next one, or see if it’s going to go away. Now is the time to act and get to a safe place.”

Kidd explained that lightning and thunderstorms are common in the weeklong forecast in the Windsor-Essex region, and suggests safety plans be put in place ahead of any severe weather.

If a person hears thunder or sees lightning, it means they are close enough to be struck by lightning, making it the right time to seek shelter.

“The ideal is to seek refuge in a closed and resistant building. That’s your number one safest place. Away from the windows, away from the doors. “You don’t want to be on a laptop that’s plugged in or a corded phone,” she explained. “You have to stay away from those connected devices. Your cell phone is fine if it is not plugged in. I would recommend not bathing. You don’t want to be in water, it’s just very good at conducting electricity. So during a storm is not the time to bathe.”

If sturdy shelter is not available, Kidd said the next safest place is a metal-roofed vehicle with the windows and doors closed.

“If you are in the water, get out of the water immediately. You don’t want to take your time. Get to shore as soon as you can,” she added.

According to Environment Canada, more than 164 people are injured by lightning strikes each year.

Kidd suggests people stay inside for 30 minutes after the last thunderclap.

“I hope people don’t get too comfortable with storms and say ‘Oh, we have them all the time and you know, I’ve never been hit before so I’ll be fine.’ I hope that doesn’t happen in southern Ontario,” Kidd told CTV News Windsor.

He added: “No one believes it will happen to them, but there are numerous injuries and deaths in Canada every year, and you just don’t want to be that person.”

Windsor Harbor Master Peter Berry also urged vigilance for severe weather while navigating local waterways this summer, suggesting that sudden, fast-moving storms can make it difficult for swimmers, boaters and others in the water to reach the coast safely.

“If you’re spending the day on the water, take the time to check the weather forecast. Watch the radar and listen to weather forecasts on your VHF marine radio for incoming gales and squalls,” Berry said.

“As we know last year, we saw a prevalence of tornadoes coming through this area where it was beautiful in the morning, nice and warm in the afternoon, the wind picked up and we could have had very bad outcomes,” he continued. “It’s part of boating safety: before you leave, check the weather forecast. Establish your float plan, notifying people you are going out and the times you are expected to return so we are not out there doing search and rescue.”